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Mediation and Litigation in the Family Courts: A New Way Forward

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Mediation and Litigation in the Family Courts: A New Way Forward Latest statistics recorded in 2009 state that the number of divorces has reduced by 6.7% throughout England and Wales compared with 2008. Even though as a society we may proudly announce that the divorce rate has been declining for the past six year and figures are now mirroring the statistics listed back in 1972, divorce is still far from uncommon. Interestingly the statistics already available on the ONTS website state that in March and June 2010 alone there appears to be a steady increase of divorces in England and Wales. Taking in to consideration the number of divorces still going through our Courts today, it would appear that easy accessibility to legal advice and protection during this emotional and vulnerable period is as important as it ever was. Since the Family Law Act 1996 and Lord Woolf's report, 'Access to Justice', Courts are encouraging litigants to explore the route of meditation prior to lengthy and expensive civil proceedings. Lord Woolf's report strongly supports mediation; and Lord Woolf himself is an accredited mediator. There are different types of mediation available. The most common form is 'family mediation', whereby both parties attend mediation sessions together. If the divorcing parties are completely against joint sessions, then the mediator is able to see them separately. Even if the parties are able to come to some form of agreement during mediation, a solicitor will play an important role. A family solicitor is an expert in the law surrounding divorce and separation and will advise their client throughout the mediation process. The client can rely upon their solicitor to explain any legal implications that may arise from the agreements formed during mediation and draw up any legal documentation that is required. Some solicitors are also qualified mediators. Like Lord Woolf they embrace mediation and use their legal acumen during the mediation process. It is quite normal for your solicitor to suggest appointing a solicitor mediator prior to making a court application. The solicitor mediator will meet both parties together and with their legal knowledge be able to suggest ways to resolve conflict and offer solutions. The outcome of the sessions are then relayed back to your solicitor, who is able to action any agreements resulting from the mediation and perhaps avoiding costly court applications and drawn out litigation. Finding a solicitor that you trust is important. A solicitor with specialism in family law instils confidence. It is imperative that you feel comfortable with the solicitor, especially when discussing sensitive family issues. The best way to find a solicitor with all the attributes you require is to attend an initial consultation. This will allow you to discuss your matters and decide upon the solicitor you wish to instruct. Gepp & Sons have a team of highly skilled solicitors' specialising in all areas of family law. To arrange a free initial consultation about your family law concerns, please contact Gepp & Sons Family Law Department on 01245 228106 or e-mail paynes@gepp.co.uk. The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.